When you start studying what some call “marriage permanence doctrine,” you find out that they’re not advocating a lot of permanence, they’re advocating that literally tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of Christian marriages break up. Why?
Because they’re not legitimate, allegedly, in God’s eyes because one or both of the partners has been previously married and allegedly in God’s eyes they’re still married to their original partners if they’re still alive. Okay? They’re advocating that, literally, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Christian families, even if they’ve been husband and wife for decades, they should divorce. In fact, they go so far as to say that if they don’t they’ll go to hell because they’re living in a continuous state of adultery, and no adulterer will inherit enteral life.
Now, like all doctrine that you find that’s within the realm of Christendom, there’s always some biblical basis, but it’s always a misconstruction, it’s always an avoiding of any verses that would contradict our understanding of a few verses. This is all based, of course, on Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, also recorded later on in Matthew, recorded in Mark, recorded in Luke about remarriage being adultery. Then, it’s added to that. Well, if it’s adultery then the only way to repent of it is to get out of the adulterous relationship, so you have to get out of the marriage. It all makes sense, unless you listen to your heart.
Of course, under the new covenant, God has written His laws within our heart. It’s really quite simple to know what God’s will is, because God’s will is written in our hearts. We instinctively know it. Anytime anyone hears this doctrine, the marriage permanence doctrine, immediately their heart tells them, “That’s baloney, that’s bunk, that’s a misinterpretation of the Word of God.” They many times sincerely keep listening to these teachers who then talk them into it, because they have a developed argument. All right.
What is the truth? What’s wrong with the marriage permanence doctrine? Well, it contradicts other parts of Scripture. It shows that it’s a wrong interpretation of those scriptures. Remember, of course, that all the words of Jesus were not spoken in a vacuum. They were spoken at a time and a place and to people who have certain ideas and we know actually a lot of what their ideas were, because it’s recorded in sources outside the Bible. In the Talmud, for example, and the writings of the Jews during that time and the teachers. We also have context of what Jews believed in the gospels.
You remember one time, some Pharisees came and asked Jesus, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?” You just think, “Oh my goodness.” That shows you where the pharisees were at, because that’s what they were advocating. We know that the law of Moses makes some allowance for divorce, and so, what’s the cause? For what reason can a person divorce his wife? There was a line of teaching, it’s history, that basically a man could divorce his wife for any cause at all. Again, any born-again Christian knows that’s nuts. That’s absolute nuts. You know, you don’t even need the Bible to know that. Pagans know that’s wrong, but Jewish leaders in Christ’s day were clueless and blinded by their own darkness, which they had created.
Again, the words of Christ about divorce and remarriage were not spoken in a vacuum. They were spoken within the context of history, the context of the people that Jesus was ministering to. The Pharisees, by and large, who were the major teachers, Scribes and Pharisees, their basic thought was that you can divorce your wife for any cause at all, therefore of course, divorce was absolutely rampant. Right? When divorce is made easy and you can do it for any reason, men are divorcing their wives any time they have a little problem. In fact, in one of those Talmudic writings, the guy said that one of the reasons you can divorce your wife is if you see a woman who’s more attractive to you. Oh my goodness, these guys were so, so far from God.
Jesus, recognizing their complete darkness and blindness and the utter idiocy of this kind of thinking that they would even ask such a ridiculous questions, tries to help them understand, graciously, and tries to rephrase something, helping them see where they’re so, so, so wrong. He does that by trying to help them see that divorce and remarriage, it can be, at least in one sense, termed as adultery because you’ve got a covenant with somebody else, and then you just left them, you broke that covenant. God’s not saying, “Oh yeah, okay, I acknowledge that that was okay.” That was not okay at all. God hates divorce, God said in the Old Testament book of Malachi. He hates divorce.
Jesus said from the beginning, it’s not been this way. Moses allowed some concession for divorce, but from the beginning, God never intended for anybody to be getting divorced. Jesus, again, tries to help them understand. You divorce, you marry another, that’s not good, that’s not legitimate. That very much resembles adultery. Now, not exactly of course, but very much resembles adultery because you’re having sex with a woman and you made a covenant with another woman. That’s the similarity, but not exact, not exact. A little bit different.
Jesus is, again, just trying to help these folks see. Not stating then, never stating, that the remedy is then to get another divorce. That’s never said by Jesus, never, and it’s never said anywhere in the epistles. That’s what makes these marriage permanence guys just like the West Virginia snake handlers in this sense. They focus on just one verse. (Now the marriage permanence folks, the divine divorce folks, have a couple of scriptures, so I guess they’re a little better than the snake handlers.)
The snake handlers have one verse that talks about a sign that will follow believers is they’ll handle serpents. Even though there’s no other verses on that, there’s no examples in the Book of Acts of snake-handling services, there’s no anything in the epistles that talk about how you need to be handling snakes in your church services, nothing like that. They build a doctrine on one verse at the expense of all the rest of the verses like ones that say, “You shall not force the Lord your God to attest.” And, “The Lord thy God have given thee a brain.” Which, is actually not in the Bible, but it certainly is implied by the entire Bible. God wants us to think.
The marriage permanence folks have read an analogy that Christ makes about how divorce and remarriage is like adultery, and then build this monstrous doctrine out of it that goes against clear thinking and other scriptures. One of the scriptures it goes against is, couldn’t be clearer, Deuteronomy chapter 24 where God talks about the woman who’s divorced and then remarried, and how God forbids her from ever going back to her first husband, which is what would be the primary goal, of course, of the marriage permanence folks.
Well, we’re out of time. Once again, these controversial subjects take up more than just one little lesson. Get ready for part three next time. Hope to see you then.